View Full Version : Turning a 6x9 folder into a "convertable" ?

Ken Lee
30-May-2008, 13:31
Sorry, this isn't strictly Large Format, but I need the wisdom of the sages nevertheless.

I have a 1950's 6x9 folding camera. I rarely shoot wide images with it.

I'd like to be able to use it as a 6x9, 6x7, or 6x6, with the existing 105mm lens, to get more of a portrait length, as it were - and to get more exposures on a roll, accordingly.

How to make a removable mask ?

How to drill new holes in the back - above the other numbers which appear on the paper backing of the 120 film - and how to place a red window there ?

Has anyone done this sort of thing ? Would someone like to try ?

Dan Fromm
30-May-2008, 15:37
Ken, if you'll look at a roll of 120 film's backing paper you should find sets of frame numbers: ending in 8 for 6x9, ending in 12 for 6x6, and ending in 16 for 6x4.5. IIRC there are three of each. There's the hint you need about where the alternate format windows must be. I've looked at my 6x9/6x6 Ensign Selfix 820; the center of its 12 frame window is perhaps 15 mm above the center of its 8 frame window. Get the exact measurement from a backing paper.

There are two approaches to getting more than one format out of a 6x9 camera. One just places a blackened sheet metal gate between the film rails. These infernal devices are easily misplaced. The Selfix 820 takes a different approach, has a little flap on pivots at each end of the gate. For 6x9 they sit in the spool chambers, for 6x6 they swing out to sit between the film rails.

The 820 also has a dual format finder, very useful. I've seen any number of 6x9/6x6 folders, no 6x9/6x7, also 645 folders. I have the impression that 6x7 wasn't much in vogue when ordinary folks shot 6x9, 6x9 and half-frame 6x9 (645).

All of the 6x9 folders I've seen have lenses in the range 95 - 110 mm. These are somewhat long for general 6x6 shooting but ought to do if you want to shoot 6x6 portraits.

Paul Bujak
30-May-2008, 15:44
I'm not sure how you would do the conversions yourself, but what I did was buy on the auction site :

1. A Kodak Tourist II camera with Kodak Anastar 101mm f/4.5 lens in a Kodak Synchro-Rapid 800 shutter. Be careful as this camera came with several lens shutter combos.

You get the 6x9 neg although you probably won't come anywhere close to 1/800 second with the shutter.

2. Then you buy a Kodak Tourist Adapter kit which has masks for half-frame and 6x6 and 24x40 mm (828 film frame). You also get a removable back with all three holes and red windows in the proper places and clip-on framing adapters for the focus window.

You can get all this for a little more than a hundred bucks and save a lot of time and effort.

On the down side, the Tourist II is a 620 camera and 620 film is hard to find and a bit expensive. But you can always do as I do and re-spool 120 onto 620 spools. It's not that big a pain but make sure to re-spool very tightly as the 620 flange is smaller than the 120 and edge-fogging can be a problem.

All-in-all, it's a pretty nice camera and the lens is pretty sharp, too. I've made some nice pictures with it.

Good luck,

31-May-2008, 09:41
The early Bessa RF (coupled), and a lot of the lesser Bessas, and the Bessa I all had dual format, and can be found with masks still in attendance, but it's a hunt to get one with the mask. I have one with the mask and the two holes in the door. With 6X9/6X4.5 the door has two holes in line and you use the 6X9 numbers. If you have the mask in for 6X4.5, you bring the number up to the first hole, shoot, then move the number to the second hole. The mask has a tab that opens a closure gate for the second hole, when the mask is installed. That's the simplest system I have seen. I am keeping this camera, because I have let Bessa's go before simply because I didn't have the mask.

I'd get a camera with a mask on eBay or other before I would try to mod one. The framing on this bessa and the fact that the second hole is blinded without the mask make very much sense. I bought my last Bessa w/mask about a year ago. It's one with the lesser lens (braunschweiger, or Voightar), but I bought it for the mask and the package cost me $80, plus ship. The plus..... it actually takes very nice pictures using the scale focus. The Bessa RF I had before took fantastic images, but I did not have the mask at that time.

Interestingly, the Bessa II RF that everyone pays a chunk for Does NOT have a dual format capability.

The other dual format that I have pondered has been the Moskva 4 and 5 models. They often come with 6X9 and 6X6 masks, and I have seen more masks included with them because they are sometimes new or have little use. The people who get good ones (and they are cheap) often praise them on image quality. They are fairly close copies of Zeizz 6X9s and rangefinder equipped.

31-May-2008, 13:08
Since you folks are on the Six by item: I think I am close in my thought's !
6x6 equals 2.25 x 2.25 ++++++ 6x9 equals 2.25 x 3.25 ++++++ 6x12 equals 2.25 x 4.50 ! are these measurements are good enough for hand grenades ??

Have a graphfix 120 roll film holder, I'd like to make into a 6x12 shooter or should I just go to 6x9 and let it got other wise?

Just making sure my numbers are fine:

1-Jun-2008, 10:37
various solutions...
1) There are some nice, fairly reasonably priced holders for 6X12 that fit 4X5 cameras with graflock backs.

2) I once rigged a double side holder with a dark slide for a cutout on half the long dimension. You can shoot 4 pics on a double 4X5 that way, but your memory has to be very good. You end up with 2 2X5's on each sheet of film. compose and focus on the half of the GG that you will be using on the first shot. Insert the film holder, pull the dark slide, insert the special slide for the half you composed on, shoot the pic. Pull the special DS, insert the full DS. Compose second pic on the other half of the frame, insert holder (this is where memory, or some marking procedure, comes into play), Pull the DS, insert the special DS with the opening over the new frame to be exposed, shoot, remove the special DS, insert the full DS, remove the holder. 2 shots done (one sheet of film).
I got fairly good at doing this. The pano is 50MM by 125MM, roughly.

Now, what I do is shoot 6X9 images for stitching in CS3. That way I can get up very close to 6X17 without investing $4000 in panoramic equipment.

I have a late knob roller "23" Graphic Graflex (6X9) roll film back for my 4X5. The late knob roll models had the extra pin rollers at each end of the opening for added film flatness. (Actually, the pin rollers are in the back itself, next to the openings, not in the film insert). It's a popular misconception that the pin rollers only came on the lever winds. Not true, and I prefer the knob roller, because many of the lever winds I have owned had weak return springs on the lever and it was forever catching on something.

Anyway, there are a number of solutions for shooting or creating panoramic images with lesser equipment. I choose to do the 6X9 multiples and stitch rather than spend the money for long roll film backs or pano cameras.

Michael Graves
1-Jun-2008, 10:45
Check around for a Moskva. I picked up a very nice sample from a member here (my apologies for not remembering whom), and I've shot nearly as many rolls of film with that as I have my Mamiya 7. Is there something either Freud or Jung would say about that?

16-Jan-2009, 22:00
I've got a Moskva 5 folder and the negs are 6x9. They make crisp prints and
for the $75 I got it for ...................WOW. I must've lucked out because it
worked great on the first roll. I also own a 4x5 monorail but find that most of
my best images were done with cheap 120 cameras like my Yashica 635.
I also had a Bessa and I think if you use the indexing dots or stars on the
backing paper you can reference any size especialy if you have two ruby
windows ( 6x6 6x9 ) . Like frame one is two dots past number two, frame
two is actualy number 5, then two dots past 7 etc. Good luck.